Museum to Nazi-backed 'traitor' angers Russians

17th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The controversy erupted after the childhood home of Andrei Vlasov -- widely despised in Russia -- was bought by a company that develops tourism, the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta said.

Moscow -- Russian veterans have voiced outrage at plans to open a museum devoted to a World War II Soviet general who switched sides and fought alongside Nazi Germany, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The controversy erupted after the childhood home of Andrei Vlasov -- widely despised in Russia -- was bought by a company that develops tourism, the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta said.

A group of World War II veterans wrote to President Dmitry Medvedev, condemning as "sacrilege" the plans to open the museum in Vlasov's birthplace of Lomakino, a village some 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Moscow.

"A businessman wishing to remain incognito has bought the traitor's house... We who shed blood on the battlefields cannot allow such sacrilege," the veterans said in their letter, quoted by Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The company that bought the house, Blue of Russia, has no immediate plans for the site but eventually wants to open a museum there about Vlasov, whom it views as an important historical figure, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

Blue of Russia has restored a number of historical sites and turned them into museums and also produces a kind of traditional Russian porcelain.

Vlasov, who was tried for treason and executed by the Soviets in 1946, is generally seen as a villain in Russia although some émigré and monarchist groups have portrayed him as an anti-Communist hero.

He was a decorated Soviet general who took part in the defence of Moscow against German troops in 1941.

But after being surrounded by German forces in 1942, he switched sides and became head of a Hitler-backed group called the Russian Liberation Army that said it was seeking to save Russians from Joseph Stalin's dictatorship.

In 2001 Russian military prosecutors denied a request from a monarchist group to have Vlasov declared a victim of political repression.

AFP/Expatica

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